1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

RUN BOY RUN: Ch.2: Myths and Legends

by NonAnalogue

NonAnalogue As the truth of what happened to his home threatens to overwhelm him, Robin thinks back to how life used to be.
The path was well-worn, a winding trail through the autumnal trees. Robin and Starlight trailed the healer by a step, matching his pace, while Arcana, with Opal on her shoulder, strode ahead, letting out annoyed sighs whenever she had to wait for them to catch up. The forest was full of Pokemon, Robin noticed, much more so than normal; Pidgey and Butterfree watching them from the trees, Rattata and Bellsprout peeking out at them from behind trunks that dwarfed them.

"I'm pleased to see you survived," the healer said with a creaking, slow cadence. "You always were an interesting one, Robin."

"Huh?" Robin, who'd been eyeing a Treecko that'd been glaring daggers at him, snapped back to attention. "Do we… know each other?"

The healer let out a wheezy laugh. "I'm not surprised you don't know me. Men of my age… we tend to melt into the background a little, hm? I came down to the market every week, and I always saw you, Dulcie, and of course Starlight getting your groceries. Oh, I did love the way you and Starlight played together," he added with a nostalgic smile. "That game where you'd toss an apple at her and see how many times she could bounce it before dropping it? Such fun."

Robin felt his face turning red. He hadn't realized anyone was watching them when they did that. "We called it Fruit Bump," he said in a small voice. He could picture it in his head so vividly – the fruit vendor, the way her hair waved in the breeze, her stall chock full of colorful fruit from all over, his mom palming an apple and passing it down to him…

He felt a nudge at his shoulder, and suddenly he was seeing out of his own eyes again. "Are you okay, Binny?" Starlight whispered.

Robin rubbed the back of his head and jogged a few steps to catch back up with the healer. "Um, yeah. Sorry," he muttered back. "I just got… lost in my head again, I guess."

Starlight giggled, an airy noise that, after echoing in her shell, always reminded Robin of wind chimes. "Not always a bad place to be lost."

Golden leaves crunched beneath his boots. Robin let the sound wash over him as he walked, tuning out Arcana demanding information from the healer, who only waved off her questions and told her to have patience. Patience wasn't something Arcana was good at and it never had been, not that he was any better. Still, Arcana always seemed to be anxious for something to happen… no, not anxious, he thought; that sounded like she was nervous. Arcana couldn't ever cool her heels – she couldn't abide waiting.

Before he knew it, they'd reached the sanctum, a simple stone structure resting in a glade. It bore sconces on either side of a plain wooden door, the light from its torches pushing back against the dusk. Smoke billowed out of a chimney, carrying with it the faint aroma of something savory.

"Please," the healer said, "come in. My dear Peach is tending to dinner."

Peach was, as Robin found out, a Hatterene, one just as elderly as the healer. Her colors had faded and there were lines drawn across her face, and she was slowly stirring a cauldron of thick stew, the ladle held aloft with a psychic grip. Starlight floated around the pot, basking in the steam rising from it; she spun on her axis and the steam spun around her, prompting a giggle from Peach.

The healer, with deceptive swiftness, slung two wooden bowls at Peach, who froze them in the air without any visible trouble and siphoned stew into both of them. The bowls flew through the curtain of steam and arrived in Robin's and Arcana's hands, nary a drop spilled. Robin tucked into his without hesitation.

"Okay, we've got the stew," Arcana said, setting her bowl aside for Opal to slurp at. "So now can you tell us what in the world is going on?"

The healer let out a breath, slowly lowering himself into a chair that looked even more ancient than he did. "One of these days, child, your hastiness will be the end of you, mark my words." He held out a hand just as Peach levitated a steaming cup of tea in his direction in a well-practiced ritual. "Now, where to start…"

"How about with the part where Penth just got vaporized into nothingness? Or, failing that, the part where Robin got a Mimikyu costume out of thin air?"

"Child," the healer said, "My name may be Sabri the Patient, but even I have my limits. The events that transpired today have their roots in myth and legend, and I dare not get this wrong. This is portentous stuff, you know. Make sure you take it all in." He aimed a look at Robin, who was in the middle of a long, noisy slurp from his spoon. "That goes for you too."

Sabri cleared his throat. "This legend begins at the creation of the world—"

"Oh no," Arcana groaned, "any story that starts that far back isn't going to be a quick one."

"Child, did you or did you not want to find out what happened? Learning about it without context isn't going to help. Now hush. So. The creation of the world. You know, of course, about the pantheon of twenty deities that created all of Ennen."

Both Robin and Arcana nodded. Robin's mother had never been especially concerned with matters of religion, but even she would offer a prayer to Takren of the Enumeration when gold was short.

"When Ennen was woven into existence, each deity contributed something different. Mihtas of the Nourishment created the sky, the seas, and the land, so that the creatures that were to be made would have homes. Ithria of the Surprise breathed weather into being, to help cycle air and water around the world, though she claimed she only did it on a whim. And Sunthe of the Genesis… she molded the first people – Pokemon and humans alike – so that Tzarth of the Breath could give them life."

Arcana raised a finger. "You did see that we nodded when you asked us if we knew about them, right?"

"Peach, if she interrupts me again, cover her mouth, please. I swear. You have no appreciation for storytelling, child. Where was I? Ah yes. Tzarth. Now, Tzarth is a cynical sort. It comes with giving all creatures the gift of life, but then taking it away from them when they die. Back then, she was more idealistic, but she was nonetheless worried that, eventually, humanity, who she didn't quite like the look of, would seek to subjugate Pokemon, her favored mortals.

"So she conferred with Sunthe, and the two of them came up with a plan. If it ever became the case that humanity overreached in a way that posed a threat to Pokemon, a union of the two would arise – a duo of one human and one Pokemon. Together, they would erase humanity using powers granted to them by the deities – powers that would allow the human the strength of a Pokemon."

"Erase…" The word slipped out of Robin's mouth unconsciously. It perfectly described what he had seen happen: the beam of light that seemed to come from the deities themselves, the way it wiped Penth away as cleanly as if it had never existed at all, taking everyone they'd ever known with it…

Arcana frowned, her face crinkling with thought. "Powers granted by the deities… Are you saying the Mimikyu thing was some kind of gift from the gods or something?"

"I think it's very possible, yes," Sabri said.

"…from the gods?" echoed Robin. He didn't feel any different than he used to – certainly not like he'd been granted a divine boon or anything like that. He wished he could will his brain to process everything faster, but it was all he could do to barely keep up.

"So, wait," Arcana continued after a moment's thought. "You said that there'd be one human and one Pokemon who were granted power, and that they'd do the erasing. That can't be Robin, then. He didn't erase anything!" She grinned, like she'd found a fatal flaw in Sabri's story. "Therefore, that story can't be true!"

Sabri rolled his eyes and glanced to Robin. "Tell me, is your friend always like this?" Robin nodded, trying to ignore the glare Arcana was shooting at him. "It's a legend, child," Sabri continued. "Some of the details may not be one-hundred-percent correct – but what happened to Penth is inarguable, wouldn't you say? I worry it's just the beginning. If it's true that the human and the Pokemon have already begun their crusade, then it's a matter of when they find their next target, not if. More and more will be erased until…"

"Until there aren't any humans left," Robin whispered.

Opal jumped into Arcana's lap, circling a few times before curling up in a ball. Arcana scratched behind Opal's ears and put her other hand to her chin. "But that's all just a legend. That can't be what's actually happening, right?" she asked. "I mean, surely if all of humanity were about to be wiped from the map, someone would be doing something about it."

"Someone would be…" Sabri's jaw hung open. "Child, do I not count as 'someone'? I am trying to 'do something about it'! The three of us are the only ones who witnessed what happened, and I want to make certain that both of you have the information you need to try and prevent this from happening again!" His cheeks had turned red, and the wrinkles that lined his face had only deepened. "I'd go solve everything myself, but, in case you haven't noticed, I'm very elderly and don't get around very fast!"

"That's not right," said Robin. Starlight had settled in his lap and he was passing his hands over her shell, the rough texture keeping him tethered to the ground. He had the vague fear that if he dwelled too long on any one thing – on his mother, on his home, on the woman in white, on the legend – he'd drift away into the sky and never be able to come back down. He closed his eyes, keenly aware that both Sabri and Arcana were staring at him. "It wasn't just the three of us. Who saw it, I mean."

Sabri's eyebrows jumped up. "There was another? Who?"

"The… woman." Robin shuffled his feet uncomfortably, knowing that the answer wasn't helpful. "The one with the Marowak."

"Ugh, her. She was a piece of work," Arcana groaned. "She completely wiped the floor with us, then ran off when the Mimikyu thing happened. You didn't see her?"

"Child." Sabri let a slow breath out through his nose. "I saw the beam of light from the heavens here, from the sanctum. I went to go investigate, but it took me some time to get there. The only people I saw were the two of you and your Pokemon."

"Well, whatever. She said that the guy responsible was long gone, anyway. 'Such wonderful despair,'" Arcana said in a nasal twang. "What a tool. If I never see her again, it'll be too soon."

"But…" The words came out of Robin's mouth more slowly than he liked. It felt like Arcana and Sabri were running circles around him. "That means she knows who was responsible, right? She was saying that she was just in charge of cleaning up… so doesn't that mean that if we find her, we can find out who the guy is who actually did this?"

Seeing the look on Arcana's face, Sabri shook his head. "That may be true, but perhaps we ought to continue this conversation in the morning, when we've all had a chance to get some rest and cool our heads. The sun has set; it's getting late. Please, feel free to spend the night."

***

Robin couldn't tell how long it took him to fall asleep, tossing and turning on what could have loosely been defined as a mattress. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw the burning pillar of light, seared into his mind, incinerating away each memory he had of home.

The old well in the center of town? Gone.

The museum where old man Flint showed off all his gemstones? Vanished.

The alley off Twostone Lane where he and Starlight could hide when things got overwhelming? Erased.

It was all gone.

With tears in his eyes, Robin fell into a fitful sleep.

And while he slept, he dreamed.

He stood at the corner of Orrery Lane and Forgefire Walk. His hand was in his mother's, Dulcie's, course and calloused and comforting. It was market day, and the streets were packed with buyers and sellers alike milling to and fro. She held a finger to her lips and slid her hand into a passerby's satchel, neatly snagging a pair of gold coins without them even noticing. There was her radiant smile, the one that made Robin feel like no matter what happened, she would keep him safe. She gestured at another traveler, and Robin swiped a vial of healing potion from their belt…

…and they turned around, their eyes alighting upon Robin, the potion in his palm.

With a whooping laugh, Dulcie pulled Robin away and flew down the road, ducking under trees, over bushes, and down alleys. With the streets as packed as they were, the unfortunate pickpocketee had no chance of catching up.

It hadn't been easy since his father had died.

But his mother was making ends meet, and she was teaching him how to as well.

Robin squinted. There was something different, though. He remembered how this went. Nobody had found them, after they'd hid behind the abandoned tannery. They'd used the gold that Dulcie had found to buy dinner that day. Then they'd gone home, to the cottage that let in every chill and leaked in the rain, but they'd been together and that made everything all right.

But this time…

There was a figure approaching them, behind the tannery. Dulcie didn't seem to notice. They were cloaked in shadow, and also a cloak, which wasn't helping matters. Their hand, the color of the night sky, reached out to him, and he reached back, unable to stop himself.

A gust of wind.

Their hood fell back.

It was…

Him.

***

Robin bolted awake. Sun streamed in through the window. His clothes, the mattress underneath him, were drenched in sweat. He tried to hold onto the memory of the dream, but all that would stick was the image of a hand reaching at him… He shook his head. Best not to dwell on it, he thought.

"About time you got up," Arcana said, sitting by the fireplace and idly doodling in her notebook. "It was looking like you'd sleep forever."

"Ah… sorry." Robin yawned, then gave a tight hug to Starlight, who'd nudged him on the chest meaningfully. "Good morning, Starlight. Did you sleep well?"

Starlight chirped and bobbed in place, which Robin had long since learned meant that she was smiling. "Yes! I went outside and watched the stars from the roof. It was very relaxing!"

Robin stroked her shell. "Good. Hey, um, Arcana, where's the healer? Uh, uh…"

"Sabri?"

"Yeah. Sabri, that's his name."

Arcana glanced out the window. "He and Peach took off earlier. Gathering berries, he said. Apparently, they make potions with them."

"That makes sense for a healer, right?"

"I guess so. Look, I'm not much interested in waiting for him anyway." Arcana stood up and stretched her arms over her head. "Time to hit the road."

Robin's eyes widened. "What, already? Don't we need to talk to him about… everything?"

"Nope." Arcana shook her head. "I know what to do from here. Track down the Marowak lady, get information about the guy who did all this, and… well. Let's just say I plan to make sure he can't ever do what he did to anyone ever again."

"Wait, but… hold on a second." Once again, Arcana's rapid-fire delivery washed over Robin and took a moment to sink in. "We can't… hurt him or anything. We need him to fix this. To bring everyone back."

Arcana stared at him, her amber eyes drilling right through him, her gaze calculating. "You really don't get it, do you, Robin?" she asked, her voice low and steady. "They're all gone. All of them. Your mom, my sister, the entire town. They evaporated into light, Robin. Nobody comes back from that. No matter how much either of us wants them to."

"Wh-what are you saying, Arcana?"

Her voice rose in volume. "I think it's pretty clear what I'm saying, Robin! If what Sabri said is all true, then this is bigger than us! Bigger than our families! This guy could kill everyone! And right now the only one who can stop him is me!"

"But…" Robin tripped on his tongue. "But I can help stop him too! I don't want him to—"

"No, Robin. You can't. It's clear to me already." It was the most intense glare Arcana'd ever given him – her eyes were almost glowing. "If you tagged along, then as soon as I had him cornered, you'd try to pry information out of him, or make him promise to undo what he's done, or something pointless like that. The only thing that matters now is stopping him by any means necessary, do you understand me?"

Robin took in a slow breath through his nose and let it out through his mouth, just as his mother had always taught him to. "I… I do understand, Arcana. I understand perfectly. What you want to do… would ruin any chance I ever have of seeing everyone again. Of seeing her again."

"I told you." Arcana grimaced. "That hope is dead and buried."

"No. It never will be. And if you can't see that…" Robin swallowed, a knot forming in his throat and tears burning in the corners of his eyes. "Then I'll stop you, right now."

His challenge visibly floored Arcana, and it took her a moment to be able to put words together again. "Are you serious?" she asked, before turning to Opal. "For real, is he serious? Have I lost the ability to understand jokes? He knows we'd wipe the floor with him, right?"

Opal shrugged.

"It's not about whether I win," Robin said. "But I have to at least try, right?" Starlight made a shimmering noise beside him, and he knew he was making the right call.

Arcana threw her hands up. "Fine. Fine! I warned you, after all. Even tried to give you the common decency of waiting for you to wake up before I took off. Whatever. Let's at least go outside, though. That way we won't trash the place."

Behind the sanctum was a field that had the look of a space where someone had once wanted a garden but had never done anything past turning up the dirt. Robin and Starlight stood to one side, Arcana and Opal to the other.

"Let's make this quick, Opal," Arcana said, adjusting one of her gloves. "Water Gun. Get it done." Opal nodded and squeaked, waddling forward. She reared back and let loose a torrent of water, even stronger than the one she'd set against Sorrow. Starlight bobbed and tried to spin out of the way, but Opal had accounted for that and the spray landed squarely in her face.

Robin gave Starlight a warm smile as she looked back to him. "That's okay. Remember the idea you had a few days ago? Give it a shot."

Starlight nodded, her shell splintering. "I'll do my best!"

Arcana snapped her fingers. "We've already seen you do that once! Get ready, Opal! Here it comes!"

But instead of Starlight's shell blasting apart, this time the pieces just fell to the ground. Behind them, though, Starlight's eyes glowed a brilliant gleaming white, one that radiated outwards until nobody could see—

And then it was gone, leaving only a grinning Starlight and a dazed Opal.

"Tch! Hiding a Confuse Ray behind her shield…" Arcana grit her teeth. "That doesn't matter! Opal, keep up the tempo!" Opal stumbled forward, but only succeeded in falling flat on her face. "Opal, come on!"

"Starlight, use…" Robin said, then stopped himself. "No, I trust you. Do what you think is best, and let's end this!"

"Okay!" Starlight trilled. She hovered in place and spun on her axis, faster and faster – then dropped to the ground, flying forward like a wheel. She plowed into Opal and kept going, making a wide turn back towards her prone foe. Opal tried to get her flippers under her, but she only stumbled again – just for Starlight to mow her down another time.

Arcana let out an almost bestial growl. "Opal! Opal, are you okay? Come on, don't let them get the better of you!" Opal gave a wobbly salute, but Starlight crashed into her one final time, throwing her into the air. She landed and came to a rest right at Arcana's feet.

Starlight slowed to a stop and began reconstructing her shell from the shards she'd left on the battlefield. Robin knelt next to her and stroked her head. "Great job," he said quietly, so just she could hear. "I didn't think we'd actually pull that off."

"I don't believe this!" Arcana fumed. "You just got lucky!"

Robin stood. "Yeah, I guess I did. But… I still won, right? So… so that means you either have to let me come with you, or—"

"Funny." Arcana crouched and picked up Opal, cradling her in one arm. "I don't remember agreeing to that. And even after beating me, if you can't keep me from leaving… well. That says it all, really." She slowly walked for the footpath on the other side of the sanctum, almost daring him to stop her. "Goodbye, Robin."

Even though she couldn't see him anymore, Robin waved.
PrincessPika~chan likes this.